Paisley Ponderings

Originally posted on Nellie Makes:

2014_09090002I had been making good progress on the paisley designed cushion cover but I suspect I am about to take some steps backwards.

In my last post I mentioned how frustrated with the transfer method suggested with the pattern in the Stitch magazine I was.  I used a transfer pencil and despite repeating the process several times the pattern was barely visible even with my glasses on!  So I decided enough was enough and drew in the design freehand which turned out to be quite easy really given the simplicity of the design.  I definitely prefer the pounching transfer method.

Anyway having transferred the design I have made good progress on the largest motif.  The outline is in stem stitch, with the flowers made up of detached chain stitches and French knots.  I have to say that I have felt that any doubt I might have had about French knots…

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My Garden This Weekend – 7th September 2014


Autumn and the season of bounty is definitely upon us.  My step over apples have generous crops of apples considering how small the trees are; not bad for their third year.


I finished off my period of annual leave by replanting the Cottage Border along the top of 2014_09070001the wall.  Last weekend I lifted everything aside from the roses and sage, potted it up although I threw a few plants.  Then I set out off the plants I had accumulated over the past couple of weeks along with the plants that were going back in the border.  I have adopted a pink, grey, burgundy/purple theme for the border with the grey and burgundy coming primarily from foliage.  The colour palette comes from the spring blossom of the step over apples which back the border and the flowers of the Abelia at the beginning of the border which is a key view of the border.

2014_09070003I struggle with getting the maximum impact from my borders and have taken various approaches over the years including mixed season interest and a key season of interest.  Neither approach has really worked as the borders have looked dull for too much of the year.  Therefore I am trying a different approach influenced from reading Christopher Lloyd and Margery Fish.  I am trying to have good structure with foliage interest and then having flowers to supplement this with hopefully interest at different times of the year.  I probably haven’t explained myself very well but I feel I have a plan in my head! The border planting is fairly restricted too, another part of the plan, and features sedums, stachys, roses, aquilegia, pink Japanese anemones, and geraniums.  One of my sons has suggested that I add some alliums to continue the purple theme in late spring and I think this is a good idea.


Pleased with how the Cottage Border, which I am renaming the Rose Border due to the number of roses included, has gone I have moved on to the Big Border.


The Big Border has always meant to have a late summer season of interest but is somewhat lacking at the moment.  There are a number of asters in the border which are still in tight bud so I am probably being unfair but I have felt that it needed zinging up and in particular the area nearest the steps.  As this is a particularly sunny spot of the garden I have planted quite a few bulbous summer plants here and the foliage has become very samey.  So this weekend I have really weeded this end of the border, removed a couple of poor kniphofia and a horrid pink sanguisorba – you can see how much space has been freed up. To this and along the far side of the border I have planted out the asters I bought from Pictons.  2014_09070019Anna asked which asters I bought from Pictons so just for her here is a list of my purchases:

Aster ericodes f. prostrate ‘Snow Flurry’
Aster trinervius ‘Stardust’
Aster lateriflorus var. horizontalis ‘Prince’
Aster pringeli ‘Monte Cassino’
Aster x frikartii ‘Wunder von Staffa’
Aster linosyris


I’m also really pleased with this combination – Crocosmia ‘Emily Mackenzie’ alongside the autumn foliage of Hamamelis mollis ‘Arnold Promise’; there is also an orange flowered Geum tucked in further back in this border which I hope will bulk up and add to the colour. This combination is at the end of the path which goes in front of the Rose Border and like the way it acts as a focal point as you walk along the path.


Finally I have been busy in the evenings repotting my bulb collection.  I still have lots more to do and am having to work out a new plan to accommodate everything that needs overwintering this winter given that I don’t plan to have the greenhouse particularly warm.  Mum’s mini greenhouse which she had decided to get rid of should help with this though and is probably going to become home for my non-bulbous alpines.


So lots achieved despite the odds and the plans I have been forming in my mind over the summer are starting to come together.  The tree surgeon has been instructed to deal with the huge willow and I am waiting to see how this impacts on the light in the top half of the garden before move forward there.  I have though decided to not buy any more seeds. I love sowing seeds but never had enough time to look after the seedlings and this frustrates me.  I am someone who if they are going to do something they want to do it well so no more seed sowing; well not until such time as I have more space or time.  This should take some self-imposed pressure off me and allow me time to explore my new fascination – embroidery which is the subject of my other blog!



Posted in Big border, Cottage Garden Border, garden, gardening, My Garden, My garden this weekend, September | Tagged , , , , , , , | 10 Comments

“Desperate for Asters”

Aster 'Professor Anton Kippenberg'

Aster ‘Professor Anton Kippenberg’

Yesterday I had a lovely day out with my friend Victoria.  Firstly we went to Hampton Court which I blogged about last week but the main purpose for our excursion was because Victoria was “desperate” to buy Asters and was despairing of finding any apart from the bulk standard dwarf varieties that you find in garden centres.  I had promised her a trip to Old Court Nursery over the hill from me in Colwall which is home to a national collection of Aster novae-angliae and is known for the variety of asters it grows, breeds and sells.


We were a little early in the aster season to see the national collection in full flower but they should look amazing in a week or so.

Michaelmas Daisy Fairy

Michaelmas Daisy Fairy

Throughout the garden are willow sculptures by local sculptor Victoria Westaway and I particularly like the Michaelmas Daisy Fairy which is a centrepiece.


I was intrigued to visit the Picton Garden as I know Helen and Ross have had a major overhaul and the last time I was there in late April/early May the majority of the garden was bare soil where Ross had been clearing with a digger. At the time I thought they were mad but as you can see from the photos in this post they weren’t and the planting is stunning considering how recently it was put in.


I love the way they have planted the asters amongst other late summer perennials including grasses to show how well they work in a mixed herbaceous border. The aster, Japanese anemone and crocosmia combination above was one of my favourites.


You can see how well the aster work with grasses and it is a pity they aren’t incorporated more into the new perennial plantings schemes, often called prairie planting.


The planting also reinforced my feeling that I need more blues and yellows/oranges in my borders. We were meant to be looking at varieties that might work in Victoria’s garden and I wanted to get some shorter varieties to go in front of some tall asters I had bought a few years back who needed their feet disguised but I was so distracted by the planting I kept forgetting to look at particular plants.


We did notice that some varieties were more prone to sprawling than others so would be in need of staking more.  In my garden where tall plants seem to mysteriously develop a leaning nature I have to be wary of the taller plants or deploy a lot of stakes so the more self-supporting varieties are needed.  Some of the varieties that sprawl seem to do it more gracefully than others and it is therefore good to see them growing in a mixed herbaceous border so you can see how they grow and which will suit your own garden best.


I am pleased to report that we came away with a car full of plants and both pleased with our purchases.

Posted in Asters, August, garden, gardening, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , | 16 Comments

Wordless Wednesday 3/9/14 – Fireworks Championships

2014_08310034 2014_08310045 2014_08310071 2014_08310062 2014_08310078 2014_08310084

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End of Month View – August 2014


I have been off work for just short of two weeks and have completely lost track of time and the date so unfortunately the photos for this post were taken at midday when the sun was shining in my eyes so apologies. August has been very mild this year and wet and has, along with Dad’s illness and death, has meant that the garden has been somewhat overlooked.

I will start with the Big Border which I am really pleased with considering the planting was done this Spring.  Tweaking is required as there are far too many strappy leaves at the sunny end and I want to increase the amount of yellows, oranges and blues as the intention is that this time of year will be the real focus of the border.


Conversely the Cottage Garden Border is having a real overhaul as it hasn’t been performing as per my imagination.  I now have a scheme for it which should have interest throughout the summer with some late spring interest.  I am currently digging up everything that isn’t in the right place or I have doubts about and then I am going to improve the soil and then plant out all the plants I have collected over the last couple of weeks.


The Hardy Exotic Border is slowly filling out and I am pleased with the textures.  It will be interesting to see how it progresses next year and I want to add a mass of bulbs to give it Spring interest but I haven’t decided what.  My first instinct is tulips in reds and other rich colours but I am reluctant to do this as I am sure it will encourage the badger to visit and big up everything in the border.  I recently threw a load of tulip bulbs on the compost heap and surprise surprise the badger visited and trashed the place again.  I don’t want camassias as I have those in the Big Border so maybe a load of daffodils would be a good idea.


The Not Bog Garden is looking OK but needs some work to give it more structure and definition. I am still pondering this but I feel a shrub is needed in the gap to the left.


I am really pleased with the original woodland border this year.  I had been frustrated with it as after the spring bulbs and flowers it looked flat and uninteresting.  This spring I added a large persicaria from elsewhere and repositioned a shrub and this height at the back of the border has made a huge difference and added lots of interest.  In fact it has gone a little too far the other way and I need to reposition some of the original plants.


I am also pleased with succulent border under one of the front windows but I still have to get rid of the dandelions! The sempervivums have really bulked up in the trough and I am now thinking of adding more around it.


Nipping back round to the patio the Patio Border is entering its late summer period when the Kirengeshoma palmata comes into its own.  I need to reposition the Edgeworthia to the left of the border to balance it out better and add some more bulbs for spring.


Finally the Staging area is at capacity with pelargoniums and succulents enjoying the last of summer.  I need to do more weeding here and remove the Mind your Business Plant yet again – never by this plant you will regret it!

So there we are at the end of August.  Not as much progress with projects as I had hoped when I wrote this post in July but then life has a habit of throwing curve balls and there isn’t anything that can’t wait.

Everyone is welcome to join in with this meme and I love visiting all your gardens to see what you are up to.  You can use the meme as you want whether its to look at one area over a period of time or just to have a tour of the garden.  All I ask is that you link to this post in yours and put a link to your post in the comment box below so we can all find each other.  Have fun.

Posted in August, Big border, bog garden, Cottage Garden Border, End of month view, garden, gardening, My Garden | Tagged , , , , , | 22 Comments

The importance of yellow in the border


My small-scale quest to find examples of good late summer borders, and in particular mixed borders looking good now, has continued.  Hampton Court in Herefordshire is a pleasant cross-country hours drive from me and a garden I visit at some point most years.  I haven’t been this late in the season so it was interesting to see how the garden looks later in the year.


The walled vegetable garden was looking amazing in its own inimitable fashion.  I’m not a huge fan of veg gardens but there is always something fascinating as well as exuberant about Hampton Court’s garden.  They use a wide range of herbs and annuals to add colour and draw in the pollinators.  However this did not help me with my quest.


Although I was rather taken with the combination of the Chocolate Cosmos and the Nepeta above – another idea to take away and maybe use in my own garden.

2014_08270056For me the highlight of the garden is what I refer to as the Blue and Yellow Garden.  It always seems to look good whatever time of year I visit but I think late summer is its high point.  You can see there is a good mix of perennials in the double borders which lead to the wisteria tunnel and beyond.


Whilst I am always attracted to Inulas they are just too big for my garden.  I can say this from experience since I diligently grew some from seed a few years back and they took over the back slope and were a nightmare to dig up. However I do like the combination of the yellow and the blue and I think this could be a good theme for the Big Border at this time of year.  I already have some asters and a few rudbeckias so it is a case of considering other plants to incorporate which will also add to the interest at other points in the year.


Nepeta is a feature of these borders along with rudbeckias and they seem to add a rhythm to the borders which works along the long length but I don’t think I have space for that approach. Also included are roses, both yellow and white, and echinops which I had already added to my ‘to get’ list from my visit to Stockton Bury.


Interestingly although the border at first glance looks full of colour and flower when you look closely you can see that there are lots of plants which are no longer in flower but the vibrancy of the yellow draws your eye away from those.  At a recent talk by Rosie Hardy of Hardy’s Plants she recommended the inclusion of yellow in borders, even in small quantities as a highlight plant which drew the eye but also helped to lift other flowering plants.  I think in the photo above the rudbeckia really lifts both the nepeta and echinops.

2014_08270050I do like the use of blue throughout the garden at this time of year.  It seems to bring all the spaces together despite there being distantly different areas.

In the Italian Garden which is dominated by a long oblong pool the borders running either side are planted up with box edging and bay and in filled with verbena bonariensis, ageratum and I think heliotrope.  Again the blue and green work well together and I think it is food for thought that not all plants need to be in flower to provide interest and the green can be used to frame a small selection of flowers to draw attention to them and increase their impact.

Elsewhere echinops, eryngium and cardoons provide colour against the fading earlier flowers. However, this was not as effective as the blue and yellow combinations. So it seems that yellow is the way forward for the Big Border and learning from Stockton Bury pink Anemones is the way forward for the Cottage Border – luckily there is a path between them!



Posted in August, days out, garden, Gardens, My Garden, Visiting Gardens | Tagged , , , , , , | 10 Comments

Wordless Wednesday 27/8/14 – Eryngium alpinum ‘Blue Star’

Eryngium alpinum 'Blue Star'

Eryngium alpinum ‘Blue Star’

Posted in August, gardening, Perennials, Photography, Plants, Wordless Wednesday | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment